Many people enjoy playing games of chance or betting on sports events, but is gambling in California considered an illegal activity? The answer is somewhat complex. Certain forms of gambling, as spelled out in California Penal Code (PC) §330, are illegal. These include games like:
- Banking and percentage games
If you have questions about gambling’s legality in California, get in touch with Simmrin Law Group today. Our attorneys have experience helping people charged with illegal gambling activities.
Legal Forms of Gambling in California
The law allows for gambling in specific instances. Vegas-style casinos located on Tribal Indian Land, card clubs in which players are charged a fee instead of having banked games, the state lottery, charitable gambling (such as bingo games for charity), and pari-mutuel horse betting are all allowed.
The only Vegas-style casinos allowed in California are located on Tribal Land. This type of gambling uses banking/percentage collection. In other words, it takes money from the losers of the game and uses that money to pay the winners while taking a “cut” for the house (or casino).
Unlike Vegas-style casinos, card clubs don’t operate on a banking or percentage basis. Instead, they charge players up-front for admission into the club. The “house” doesn’t take a cut of the winnings.
It is also legal to participate in the California State Lottery. This includes scratch-off tickets, lotto, PowerBall, etc.
The only exception to the no-banking-and-no-percentage-games rule is charitable gambling. The law allows you to participate in certain Bingo games that collect a percentage of the winnings, provided those winnings all go to charity.
Horse racing is the only sport for which California allows parimutuel betting. In this style of gambling, players’ bets are all pooled together and the money is divided among the winners. While the house doesn’t get a cut, taxes and management fees are taken out before those winnings are passed on to players.
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Penalties for Illegal Gambling Convictions
Any banking game (collecting from the losers to pay the winners) or percentage game (when the house gets a cut of the winnings) is illegal. If you are charged with illegal gambling, the charge is considered a misdemeanor and you can face several penalties, including:
- Up to six months in county jail
- Between $100 and $1,000 in fines
Unlike other types of criminal charges, there should not be any repercussions for immigration standing due to illegal gambling. However, it’s still important to seek help from a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at Simmrin Law Group.
What to Do If You Are Charged with Illegal Gambling
The first step to take if you are charged with illegal gambling in California is to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They can help you by going over the specifics of your charge, collecting evidence to support your defense, and crafting a defense strategy.
Evidence Your Attorney Can Collect in Gambling Cases
Some of the evidence that can support your claim of innocence in illegal gambling cases include eyewitness testimony from other players, video footage from the casino or card club, and the payment records of the casino or card club.
Depending on the details of your case, there could be additional avenues through which your California illegal gambling defense attorney can seek evidence.
Possible Defense Strategies
Typically, there are three ways of combating an illegal gambling charge.
- The game you played was not a banking, percentage, or explicitly prohibited game.
- The evidence used to charge you came from an unlawful search and seizure.
- While the game you played was a banking/percentage game, it was for a charitable organization.
It is also possible that law enforcement acted in illegal ways when questioning you. For example, a defense attorney could argue that police coerced a confession from you, which can render the confession inadmissible in court.
Again, the exact strategy that your case requires is best developed after you have conversed with knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys in California.
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Find Your California Illegal Gambling Charge Attorney Today
At Simmrin Law Group, our practice focuses on personal injury, criminal defense, and family law. We can help you defend yourself against an illegal gambling charge in California, including working to get your charges dropped or reduced.
If you have been charged with illegal gambling, you don’t have to simply suffer the consequences. California gambling laws are complex, and a skilled attorney can help you clear your name. Contact us today for a free consultation on the ways we can help you fight for your rights.